ANC 2B’s Special Meeting on Transportation Items

Hello neighbors!

A special meeting of the ANC 2B has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 5 to pick up agenda items we did not complete in January. Some quick news first:

On to the next meeting’s agenda and my thoughts:

20th/21st/22nd Streets NW

The 20th/21st/22nd St. NW Protected Bike Lanes Project ​is up again. I attended the ANC 2A (Foggy Bottom) meeting on January 16 where they also tackled this and passed a three-page resolution supporting the project. They prefer 21st St NW to the National Mall, but somewhere between E St NW and I St NW recommend 20th St NW into Dupont Circle.

Here in Dupont, there is some opposition for using 22nd St NW and 21st St NW by some who use on-street parking, and there is some opposition to using 20th St NW by some safety and bicycle advocates as it doesn’t logically support a full protected network of lanes. For example, how do you bike to 20th St NW if you are traveling from our neighborhood on the east side of Dupont? R St NW connects well to 21st and 22nd but not 20th. As well, our farmers’ market is on 20th St NW between Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Based off the feedback I have received from neighbors in SMD 2B04, I have heard widespread support for the project but no strong opinion on which street should be used as long as the chosen route is simple, safe, and connects properly from Ross Elementary to the School Without Walls at Francis Stevens, to Foggy Bottom, and to the State Department. I’m working to make sure that is included in the letter to DDOT if the ANC 2B passes a resolution to do so at this meeting.

If ANC 2B passes a resolution, the resulting letter to DDOT will be taken with great weight but the final decisions will be theirs after weighing all known factors and input. I do not envy their job.

17th Street NW

17th St NW south of Massachusetts to Farragut Square, as well as the next block where 17th turns into Connecticut Ave to Lafayette Park, is slated to become two-way permanently. Currently, some hours in the morning, it operates as a one-way street. This change likely will have negligible impact on car commutes, does not take any street parking away, and deemed to make the street less confusing. I support this change. 

Right Turns on Red

Third and fourth on the agenda are regarding the Mayor and DDOT’s initiative to ban right turns through red lights at approximately 100 more intersections. Permission to make turns through red lights became widespread in the U.S. during the energy crises in the 1970’s as it could save 1 to 4.6 seconds in efforts to save fuel. However, it has also shown to make intersections slightly more dangerous for pedestrians, and there have been pedestrian deaths from vehicles turning through a red light. The Washington Post dug into if it really makes a difference or not.

My personal observations: many who drive cars already go through red lights on intersections where it is illegal without repercussion. Many take left turns on red when there are two one-way streets (e.g. 17th St NW going to Q St NW) even though all left turns on red are illegal in D.C. (did you know that?!). Right turns on red can encourage creeping into crosswalks and bike lanes to look for cross traffic, making intersections more dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. I periodically drive a car and will creep into intersections while turning on red lights. If I don’t, the car behind me is apt to honk! As a pedestrian, I almost got hit by someone driving a car a few weeks ago where they were making a turn on to 17th while it was my right of way in a crosswalk. The driver rolled through the right turn even though they were required to stop. I know many of you have your own stories!

This all said, I do not think banning 100 more right turns on red and adding more signs is a serious solution. Banning going through any red light District-wide would be a more bold measure, and I believe none of this makes much difference if it is not enforced. In the end, the sentiment and attention to the issue is good and I am likely to support work highlighting making our intersections safer.

19th St NW and T St NW

An on-street parking spot near this intersection is situated where it encourages an alley to be blocked and can block sight lines for pedestrians and vehicle traffic. Commissioners Schwartz and Sampson who represent the area are working with neighbors to resolve the issue. I walk that intersection almost daily on my commute and I plan to support a measure encouraging making the area safer. 

As always, keep in touch if you have any thoughts on the above items or anything else in the neighborhood you’d like to talk about! 

Aaron Landry

Secretary, ANC 2B
Commissioner, SMD 2B04

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